Democrats in the New Mexico House of Representatives have blocked a bill that would have required doctors to provide medical care to infants who are born alive in failed abortion attempts.
House Bill 37, sponsored by Minority Whip Rod Montoya, was blocked on Thursday by the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee by a vote of 3–2.
Apart from requiring doctors to preserve the life of babies who survive botched abortions, the measure also would have provided protections for babies born in miscarriages and natural births. The legislation would have made it a first-degree felony to intentionally kill infants who survive any of the said procedures.
The bill would have also required the creation a task force from the Department of Health and the Children, Youth and Families Department to investigate whether infants have been born alive at abortion clinics and if any received proper medical care.
Montoya, a Republican, said that the proposal was not an abortion bill and was intended to fill a gap in New Mexico law.
“This is a human rights bill for infants who are born alive – whether it’s following an abortion, a miscarriage or a natural birth,” he said, according to Albuquerque Journal.
Lt. Gov. John Sanchez also spoke in favor of the bill. “We have an obligation to stand up and speak out for the most vulnerable among us,” he said.
Opponents of the measure have argued that there are already laws and medical standards in place that covers how to handle abortion and other procedures.
The state House committee also turned down two other abortion-related bills on Sunday. One bill would have banned abortions after 20 weeks into pregnancy, while the other bill would have required that a parent or guardian be informed before an abortion is performed on a minor.
Earlier this year, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska introduced a federal bill that would strengthen protections for babies born alive after botched abortions.
The issue of babies surviving failed abortion attempts gained national attention when Nurse Jill Stanek testified before Congress about finding an infant who lived through the procedure but was left to die at a Chicago-area hospital.
Her testimony was instrumental in passing the Born Alive Infants Protection Act udner President George W. Bush. Sasse’s bill, known as Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, aims to strengthen the legislation.